There is a simple question that constantly floats to the top of of my viewing experience whenever I finish an episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead. “What separates the living from the undead?” In a show that has seemingly clear divisions between the rotting, flesh eating, mortified remains of humans long dead and the living, breathing, thinking, loving, humans with color in their skin…the lines might be thinner than one would think, or hope.
They say that when a man is backed into a corner with his life on the line, the boundaries between man and beast start to blur. In this modern day depiction of what life would be like when zombies take over, I couldn’t agree more. In this show we see a group of humans fighting to survive, traveling from one safe place to the next, all the while loosing loved ones to the mobs of the undead. In the group we see love, compassion, and loyalty. In contrast, we bare witness to the savage, untamed, and merciless fractions within the human spirit. One might ask themselves, Who are we to fear more? The undead? Or the crazed will of a human to survive?
After watching two and a half seasons of this show, you begin to notice a pattern and a very evident theme. When life takes everything away from you and leaves you with nothing but memories and the threat of extinction, a person has a few choices to make. Will you keep your humanity? Or will you subscribe to becoming less? Will you rise up and overcome or will you become the thing that you hate? Are the undead the lucky ones? What makes us human? What makes us more?
We are not currently engaged in an apocalypse. Yet nearly all of the show’s questions beg to be considered even in the here and now. The real wonder is, where is the line? What makes us human?